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n South African Medical Journal - Laboratory information system data demonstrate successful implementation of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme in South Africa : prevention of mother-to-child transmission - Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals
Background. Monitoring the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme to identify gaps for early intervention is essential as South Africa progresses from prevention to elimination of HIV infection in children. Early infant diagnosis (EID) by an HIV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is recommended at 6 weeks of age for all HIV-exposed infants. The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) performs the PCR tests for the public health sector and stores test data in a corporate data warehouse (CDW).
Objectives. To demonstrate the utility of laboratory data for monitoring trends in EID coverage and early vertical transmission rates and to describe the scale-up of the EID component of the PMTCT programme.
Methods. HIV PCR test data from 2003 to 2012 inclusive were extracted from the NHLS CDW by year, province, age of infant tested and test result and used to calculate EID coverage and early vertical transmission rates to provincial level.
Results. Rapid scale-up of EID over the first decade of the PMTCT programme was evident from the 100-fold increase in PCR tests to 350 000 by 2012. In 2012, 73% of the estimated 270 000 HIV-exposed infants requiring an early PCR were tested and the early vertical transmission rate had fallen to 2.4% as a result of successful implementation of the PMTCT programme.
Conclusions. Laboratory data can provide real time, affordable monitoring of aspects of the PMTCT programme and assist in achieving virtual elimination of paediatric HIV infection in South Africa.
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